The Bronx are back after a 5 year absence with their 4th album, the cunningly titled “IV”. The new release heralds a change for the Los Angeles 5-piece as they move towards a more rock orientated sound while still retaining the punk roots that they firmly planted 10 years ago.
Fans of The Bronx from those early days may be disappointed to hear the band mellow and become more accessible but it is the natural progression that a lot of bands go through, as you get older you tend to lose a lot of the rage and angst you have as a youth. Though I imagine that for some it will be similar to when Metallica fans first heard ‘Nothing Else Matters’ on the black album, wondering how the band that produced “Master of Puppets” ended up doing a soppy ballad.
I am pleased to say that there isn’t a ‘Nothing Else Matters’ on “IV” but there is a quiet moment with the stripped back ‘Life Less Ordinary’ revealing a reflective and introspective side to the lyrics of vocalist Matt Caughthran, accompanied only by a mildly distorted guitar, I like it. It is also nice to have an album that doesn’t taper off towards the end, they didn’t put the slower song last, giving it the penultimate slot before finishing off nicely with ‘Last Revelation’.
The album has a good swagger to it, the punk/rock blend coming together nicely to make a very listenable 12 tracks and 35 minutes of music. I didn’t get the impression of a band that has sold out or is doing things a different way for a reason, it has an easy and organic feel to it. Each song is a short, sharp slab of hooky riffs and memorable chorus sections that stick in your head. The track ‘Pilot Light’ is the highlight of the album for me and begs to be turned up each time it comes on and is almost impossible to listen to without nodding along.
I think this album will come into its own once the weather improves; playing in the background at a BBQ or blasting from the car stereo on a summers day. I have no doubt it will fit in nicely at festival slots as well, giving the obligatory ‘best of..’ setlist a fresh feel, especially if the band throws in a couple of the mariachi songs they also excel at, having released two albums dedicated to the Mexican genre under their alter ego Mariachi El Bronx.
I expect purists may come away feeling let down but that “IV” will serve to bring a new wave of fans to the sound of The Bronx and will be the soundtrack to many a burnt sausage over the months to come. The album is out now on White Drugs/ATO Records.